You want to be intentional, so you volunteer your time and energy with an organization you care about. But that service may expose you to risks you hadn’t considered.
I volunteer on a Nonprofit Board of Directors. Am I protected by their Directors & Officers (D&O) liability policy?
Yes. Most D&O policies cover directors, officers, trustees, or employees of the organization. Volunteers are also included if they are acting on behalf of and under the direction of the organization. This includes past and present people serving the organization. But many nonprofit groups don’t have D&O policies, so ask exactly which policies your group has to determine whether you’re protected.
I am not on the Board, but serve on an ad hoc committee. Am I still protected by the D&O policy?
If the group has a D&O policy, standing committee and ad hoc committee members are usually covered. But D&O policies are not standard in form, and coverage may vary between carriers, so don’t assume you’re covered. It’s safer to ask for details about your group’s specific policies and coverage.
I have a personal umbrella liability policy. Will that protect me if I am sued while volunteering?
Maybe! Your personal umbrella may provide coverage for activities you perform while volunteering, but the exact nature of your volunteer work will determine whether or not you are covered. Typically, service on a nonprofit board without receiving compensation will be covered under your personal umbrella, while serving on the board of a for-profit group can leave you without coverage.
If you are volunteering time during a nonprofit’s event and someone is injured, you can be held liable since you are an extension of the nonprofit. For example, a child is injured in a bounce house at a neighborhood block party hosted by your organization. The umbrella could provide coverage in this example if the organization were to be sued.
Remember that umbrella policies are additional liability coverage – liability being bodily injury or property damage. Liability does not include poor decisions that you make, whether as a group or acting alone.
While your service and dedication to give to others is commendable, you owe it to yourself to be sure you are covered for the work you do. Review your policy for specific language regarding volunteer work, and if ever in doubt, talk with your agent.